Written by Staff Writer
19 Nov, 2013 | 4:15 pm
At least 22 people are reported to have been killed in two explosions which hit the Iranian embassy in the Lebanese capital Beirut in quick succession.
The Iranian cultural attache Ebrahim Ansari was among the dead. Officials said the death toll could rise.
TV images showed burning cars, bodies on the street and damaged buildings.
Iran is a major backer of the Lebanese Shia militant group Hezbollah, which has sent fighters to Syria to back the government of Bashar al-Assad.
The Iranian ambassador to Beirut confirmed Mr Ansari’s death to Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV, but said it was not clear if he had been in the embassy itself or one of the residential buildings nearby.
Mr Ansari had only taken up his post a month ago, he said.
The ambassador blamed Israel for the attack – an accusation Israel swiftly rejected.
The Syrian conflict has increased sectarian tensions in Lebanon.
South Beirut, including the area around the Iranian embassy, is considered a Hezbollah stronghold. It has been hit by several attacks in recent months.
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati called the attack “a cowardly terrorist act”, Lebanese state news agency NNA reported.
“The aim of the blast is to stir up the situation in Lebanon and use the Lebanese arena to convey messages,” he said.
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